Water & Sewer

Sewer Lateral Cross-Connection

Many homes in Hamilton have two types of sewer pipes. They are known as sanitary and stormwater pipes. Both pipes serve a different purpose.

Understanding your home’s pipes

Your home’s sanitary pipes take water from your toilets, sinks, showers, laundry and other home drains and are treated at the wastewater treatment plant. Once treated, the water is released back into the natural environment.

Your home’s stormwater pipe collects rainwater and snowmelt from roofs, downspouts, foundation drains (weeping tiles) or private catch basins and sends it to the City storm sewer main. From there, the water travels to creeks, natural watercourses, Hamilton Harbour, or Lake Ontario.

Sanitary sewer systems and stormwater sewer systems should exist entirely separate from one another.

Types of cross-connections

There are two types of cross-connections: complete and partial. A complete cross-connection occurs when a home’s sanitary pipe is mistakenly tied to its storm water pip or vice versa. A partial cross-connection happens when a home’s internal plumbing is mistakenly tied to its stormwater pipe that leads to the storm sewer main.

Cross-connections come with implications. They can:

  • Allow harmful waste to enter the stormwater channels which end up polluting local creeks and natural watercourses.
  • Overburden the sanitary sewer system and wastewater treatment plant with stormwater
  • Result in expensive repairs in order to correct the complete or partial cross-connection

What is the City doing about it?

The City created a Sewer Lateral Cross-Connection program in 2002 to identify and confirm cross-connections within Hamilton. The program inspects over 45km of mainline sewer pipes each year to find existing cross-connections. Once found, the City digs up the pipes and they are properly connected. The City has fixed 370 cross-connections to date, resulting in more than 70 million litres annually of wastewater going back into the collection system rather than out into watercourses.

What you can do to prevent cross-connections

You can help prevent partial cross-connections. When planning renovations or additions in your home, ensure that you have the proper permits. Whether you are hiring a professional contractor or doing the work yourself, it is extremely important that you have the proper permits and appropriate inspections completed. This will ensure that the work has been done correctly, prevent costly repairs in the future and harm to the environment.

For more information on sewer lateral cross connections, please contact 905-546-CITY.